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Tuesday, 17 May 2011 10:12

Charting the Music: Fleet Foxes, 'Helplessness Blues'

Charting the Music: Fleet Foxes, 'Helplessness Blues'
Written by Joshua Edwards
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Fleet Foxes' sophomore album, Helplessness Blues, delivers '60s pop and folk-influenced styling with an honesty that one might expect upon hearing the title. It more than lives up to its hype and is a fitting follow-up to the band's 2008 self-titled release.

The ambient vocal layers are delivered in a way only Fleet Foxes can. Harmonies are tight and together, reminiscent of Simon and Garfunkel's delivery at times. The production elements create a soundscape capable of taking the listener to a different, simpler time and place. This paired with the intricate instrumentation of folk traditions kept me sitting glued near the stereo.

An incredible number of instruments appear on Helplessness Blues; each musician plays them with skill. The rare sounds of the tremola, water harp, mellotron and Tibetan singing bowls are featured. Traditional folk instruments such as the hammer dulcimer, mandolin and fiddle are in the mix as well. Still, many songs are based around acoustic guitars.

Despite the instrumental variety, my favorite track might be the simplistic "Blue Spotted Tail," purely for its playful questioning of life's complexities. Fleet Foxes has always had a calming effect on me when I listen. Take this album for a spin and it just might cure any "helplessness blues" ailing you.

Written by Joshua Edwards, Music Department

On the KDHX Charts: #3 CMJ Top 30 for May 10, 2011.

This album can be heard on: Feel Like Going Home, Gold Soundz and Coin-Operated Radio.

Even more: Fleet Foxes appear in St. Louis at the Pageant on July 19.

Fleet Foxes - Helplessness Blues by subpop

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